2 in 1 Olympians Volume 2
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by Susan M. Sailors
Category: Erotica/Erotic Fantasy/Fantasy
Description: SWEET CRY OF PLEASURE: Ares thinks his life will be simpler now that his affair with Aphrodite is over. However, he didn't count on finding out that Alala, his constant companion and best friend, has been waiting a very long time for him to end things with the love goddess. Alala, goddess of the war cry, has loved Ares all her life but never told him. Even when Aphrodite wasn't around, there was always another woman in his bed. Now she's taken a chance and allowed her feelings to show. Ares quickly becomes confused by his desire for her and his fear of losing her completely, if he makes the wrong choices. When a rival appears on the scene, Ares has to do something to make up for how blind he's been, or risk losing the perfect companion the Fates gave him so long ago. DESCENT INTO DESIRE: Hades has fallen in love, but the woman has no idea she's been chatting online and texting with the god of the Underworld. Persephone is a goddess herself, but she is innocent, sheltered and forced to live in her mother Demeter's shadow. She loves to stay in the mortal world where she can be herself and escape her mother's control, but Hades has plans for her. He wants to bring her to the Underworld as his queen. When Persephone decides she's tired of being controlled, she demands to meet him so they can run away together. He agrees readily, anxious to finally hold her in his arms and longing to awaken the passions he knows she possesses. He knows he'll be able to satisfy her body, but when he reveals all he hopes will he also be able to possess her heart? Read the first two books in the first volume 2 In 1 from Susan M Sailors at a special low price!
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [386 KB]
Reading time: 257-361 min.
Ares slumped over the bar and pushed his glass back to Iris. "I think I've had enough."
She put his glass in the sink and wiped the bar in front of him. "Two drinks aren't typically enough."
He tried to smile. "Tonight it is."
"I know she's my mother-in-law now, but don't you think you can do better?"
Ares raised his eyebrows. "You think?"
Iris rolled her eyes. "Of course I do. And what I mean is you can do better than someone you'll never love, better than someone who treats you like this."
"Well, you have to admit, I treat Aphrodite as bad as she treats me."
"Talking about mommy dearest, are we?"
Ares turned around to Eros sliding onto a stool near the end of the bar. He looked around and saw that except for one couple by the door, the restaurant was empty. Iris went over to her husband and kissed him on the cheek. They smiled at each other dreamily for a second.
Normally Ares would have laughed or made a joke about their cute couple behavior, but he didn't feel like it. Before she'd married Eros, he had actually tried to seduce Iris several times. She was beautiful and feisty, and she had an amazing body. He'd found in recent months she was also a very loyal friend. Her father was a water deity, so she'd been close to his uncle Poseidon most of her life, but Ares had mostly considered her a pretty little thing to banter and flirt with.
Now, when he saw her with Eros, he felt jealous. He didn't specifically want Iris, not really, though he certainly wouldn't have turned the sexy, witty goddess down, but he wanted what she had to offer. That much he had come to realize. He had a certain bad boy appeal. His dark hair and eyes, strong features and good build combined well with his irresistible charm, when he cared to be charming. However, sex was all he'd ever gained. That wasn't bad, but he'd been wasting centuries going back and forth between Aphrodite and random mortal women. If his suspicions were correct, he was in fact Eros' father, but even that wouldn't convince him to keep trying with Aphrodite. They'd been friends once, long ago, but their sex games had turned into mind games over the years, and they had both shown how cruel they could be. They could get along, but they would never really be friends again.
Ares looked up at Iris, who looked very worried. That was yet another charming thing about her. He was the god of war, and most people left him alone if he didn't look completely happy, but she wasn't going to let anything about him intimidate her away from reaching out to him.
"Yeah. Just moody. Too much on my mind."
"Can we help?" Eros asked.
Ares looked at the young blond god. They had never gotten along that well. The biggest reason was the way Ares constantly teased him, not the question of whether or not they were father and son or even Ares' constant off-and-on affair with his mother. Those issues were only part of it.
"I'm fine. Nothing new to analyze about me."
"If you say so," Eros said. "But it hasn't been that long since I would have been sickened by the sight of so many happy couples."
Eros was referring to the fact that love had been popping up everywhere among most of the gods. Not just sex, actual love that seemed to be lasting quite well for all of them. Poseidon had married a very sexy woman named Layla who had been granted immortality by Zeus, Eros and Iris had found each other in the midst of one of Aphrodite and Hera's schemes, and his sister Eris had finally managed to act on her feelings for Hermes and win his heart.
"You've got a point there, but you had more of an excuse. I have no doubt your job sucks a lot of the time."
Eros shrugged. "I've managed to keep my perspective more lately."
"Must be nice."
Iris poured Ares another drink. "You said you didn't want it, but oh well. You're getting it."
"And this will help?" He took the drink.
"All you ever do is wind yourself up. Getting laid is not the only way to relieve stress."
He smiled and leaned closer. "And what makes you think that's the only way I relieve my stress?"
She smiled back. "Wild guess."
He sat back and looked at Eros. "So any tips on how you keep your mother from driving you crazy?"
"I avoid her when possible. I doubt you can do that. This is a little different."
Ares shook his head. "That's just it. There's nothing to discuss or settle. Not as far as I'm concerned. We're over. End of story."
Eros raised his eyebrows. "Really? Nothing at all to discuss?"
He knew Eros meant the question of his paternity. "That's a different issue. She's never going to tell us anyway."
"Well, I'm sure you have more patience than she does, so she'll come looking for you and you'll have to deal with her soon enough."
He couldn't deny Eros was right. "Yeah, I know. It's all this stuff with Hermes. Doesn't help he hooked up with my sister and we got into a fight over it. It wasn't any of our business anyway."
Iris looked at him for a long time. "You can't stop yourself from caring about anyone. Maybe you both should have stayed out of it, but you can't change what you did. No one would blame you for defending your sister, even if you shouldn't have been there to overhear the argument in the first place."
Ares finished his drink. "I just need to go home."
Eros turned on his stool. "Guess we weren't much help."
Ares shrugged. "I wouldn't say that." He kissed Iris on the cheek and began to walk away.
"Let us know what happens," she called as he got to the door.
"I'm going home," he called back.
"You never know who might be there."
He groaned as he went out the door. Unfortunately, she was probably right.
Ares wanted to disappear as soon as he had appeared in his living room. Aphrodite was indeed there, sitting on the couch. Two things surprised him though. First of all, she was in his living room, not his bed. Second, she was wearing a long skirt and a top that did not accentuate her breasts.
"We were just talking about you," he said as he walked around in front of her.
She didn't meet his gaze. "You were?"
"I was at Iris' having a drink. Eros was there too."
After a moment she looked up at him. "You two were talking about me?"
She sounded uneasy, but he wasn't sure if it was because Eros had been there or just because he had been talking about her at all. "Just a bit." He sat down beside her. "We're through, Aphrodite, and you know that. You must want something else."
"I'm not sure if I want it or not. Hermes has convinced me to do something."
He waited for her to go on, but she just sat there looking at her hands. She twisted part of her skirt between her fingers.
"You don't have to explain about him. You never loved him anymore than you loved me. You were pretty obsessed, but not quite in love. Besides, you made no promises to me anymore than I did to you."
She blushed a little. He wasn't sure if he should believe her embarrassment or discomfort to be sincere though. She was the best at manipulation, better even than his mother Hera, especially with men. She might still be after something.
"Come on," he prompted. "I'll stop being an ass if you'll just tell me what you want."
"I only want to tell you something."
Ares couldn't help holding his breath for a few moments. "Yes?"
"You know what I'm going to say."
"Then bloody well say it!" The entire house shook, and Aphrodite actually made a whimpering sound.
He took a deep breath and touched her shoulder. "I'm sorry. I'm a little tense tonight." He tried to take her hands, but she pulled away. He folded his arms across his chest. "Please tell me."
She looked into his eyes for a moment, and then said, "Eros is your son."
After several moments of staring at the wall behind her, he looked at her again. "Why tell me now? Because you can't have Hermes anymore?"
Her expression hardened, though he thought he saw moisture building in her eyes. "I thought you were going to stop being an ass if I told you."
"Sorry. It's just in my nature. No overriding it."
"I came to tell you because Hermes convinced me keeping it a secret was silly. He showed me it had never done anything but cause pain and strife."
"And why did you keep it a secret?"
She sighed. "I had more than one reason, you know."
"Indulge my curiosity."
"You're an arrogant prick, first off. I didn't want to have a child with you."
Ares smiled. "You know we are born at the will of the Fates. If sex was all it took you could populate a planet."
She scowled. "As could you."
He rolled his eyes. "So, you didn't want me gloating or thinking I owned you or any other macho crap. You also didn't want to be stuck with me. Next."
"I'm talking about the way I feel."
"You never considered the way I felt, so I think you can give me just a bit of consideration at this moment. Did it ever occur to you that I might have wanted to know my son was in fact my son for the past few thousand years?"
"I guess maybe I thought you wouldn't care. Bit late to apologize now though."
"You could still do it though."
"Well, then, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it would hurt you."
He had a hard time controlling his temper because he simply couldn't believe that. No matter what she thought of him, she had to have known he would've wanted to know about being a father. "Became more of a dull ache rather quickly, another thorn in my side. Struck me as yet another sign you still wanted Hermes."
She pushed her hair out of her face. "Fine. Okay, yes, I did still want Hermes. I said he might be the father to get him to talk to me again. It didn't work."
Ares made a face. "You mean to get him to fuck you again. You two never stopped talking."
"He refused to talk about us. I wanted to force the subject. It didn't work though. He didn't care. He didn't even try to deny it even though he knew without one doubt it couldn't be true. He knew he wasn't the father and apparently that was enough for him."
For a moment, Aphrodite looked very angry. He could see her biting the inside of her lip.
"What?" Was she angry at him or Hephaestus?
She took a deep breath and let it out in a huff. "He dumped me too, okay? I thought he'd be more jealous of Hermes than you, seeing as how you'll sleep with anyone."
"As will you, my lady. I think he knew that before you two started."
Ares didn't get her meaning. "When?"
"When I told him that after our fight I spent the whole night with Hermes. He laughed. He said I was too shallow and superficial to interest a man like Hermes for more than a few couplings."
Ares almost laughed too. She hadn't spent the night with Hermes. She'd spent it with him, riding him hard and saying no one fucked her the way he did. They'd always had amazing sex when she was angry. "No, you weren't with Hermes that night."
She glared at him. "Do you care about my feelings at all?"
He searched her face. She wasn't angry, but she wasn't crying either. Her anger had faded, and she sat looking at him sadly.
"I'm not good with feelings. You have more feeling in one hand than I do in my whole body. That was always part of our communication problem, but you have to admit your feelings for me never outstripped mine for you. You can't deny that. We knew it wasn't love and never would be."
"You have feelings, even if you don't like to admit it. You didn't hesitate to threaten me when I tried to hurt your sister. You've never been afraid to tell Zeus you'd make him pay if he ever really hurt your mother when they used to fight so much. And no matter how much you hate me, you'd have no mercy on someone who really tried to harm me."
He started to touch her again, but held back. "I don't hate you."
"You don't like me."
"That's our fault. We're both to blame."
"Well, it's good our son is grown up then. Who would want us as parents?"
She narrowed her eyes. "I'm not doing this to gain something."
"No. I mean stop feeling so sorry for yourself. Hephaestus said what he did to hurt you, Hermes was fated to love another, and you and I were never, ever meant to be."
"You can't tell me to stop feeling all of this just because you can't feel anything but anger and ire. Your heart is too hard to feel anything for anyone."
He closed his eyes and leaned his head back. He wanted to point out she had just seconds earlier been arguing the exact opposite in regard to his feelings, but he let it go. Had anything they had ever done in bed been worth this? He couldn't say it had. He'd fucked her over and over again because she was good and because every time he hoped he'd feel what he needed to feel. But he never had, and neither had she. They both might as well have been using sex toys. It might have saved them and those around them a lot of pain and frustration.
"I do not hate you. Thank you for finally telling me the truth."
She sat quietly for a minute. He knew she probably found it hard to believe he didn't have more to say. "I guess it's stupid to ask if we're okay now. I'm sure we'll never have complete closure."
He looked at her for a moment. "Why not? Time can do a lot of things."
"You're right, but I'm trying to be realistic."
He knew she was right, but he felt like he had quite a bit of closure. Even when they'd been talking about other things, he had always expressed his frustration concerning her secret because it was the deception, not the subject, that bothered him. Now, he felt there was nothing left to say about it. "Let's just see what happens. I'm glad you told me. Let's go from there, okay?"
She nodded. "I have to tell Eros. I don't know what he'll say to me. Or to you."
"Let's worry about that later."
"I'll tell him tomorrow morning."
"Okay. I'll keep that in mind."
She laughed nervously. "You can believe me or not, but I've never felt so out of control." He could hear the strain in her voice.
"It's understandable. Go see Hera."
She looked hurt. "You want to get rid of me."
He sighed. He had to admit closure was a long and drawn-out process with Aphrodite, no matter what the issue. "I can't help you. Even though I got angry, you're more upset than me. You've known all along I was Eros' father, but keeping it a secret put a lot of stress on you, though I'm sure you enjoyed it a lot of the time."
She shook her head vehemently. "I didn't. It backfired. Hermes didn't care. Hephaestus didn't care. I didn't get anything I wanted. I hurt you and my son."
"You got a son who didn't turn out half bad. Maybe you didn't want him then, but you obviously wouldn't trade him for anything."
She smiled a little. "See? That helped."
"Maybe a little. You know what I mean. Go talk to Hera. You'll feel better than if we keep going at each other."
She stood up. "Don't be surprised to see Eros in the morning."
Aphrodite disappeared, and Ares sat back on the couch. He groaned. Conversations with Aphrodite always took a lot out of him. He wished more women could be like his mother or his sister.
The back door slammed, and Ares listened for a minute. He heard humming. "Alala?"
He got up and walked into the kitchen. "Hey, you're up late."
She smiled. "Went for a walk."
He nodded. Alala was a deity of war like himself and the daughter of Polemus, a war demon. Polemus and Alala were his two most interesting companions. Polemus was a surprisingly pacifistic war demon, at least he had been the past few decades, and Alala's name had become the Greek war cry, even though she was probably the quietest woman he had ever met. She was also the sweetest, despite the fact that many a poet had said soldiers' lives were sacrificed to her glory and the honor of the call to war. He had to smile, remembering how many of those mortals had never even believed in the ancient gods. She and her father lived in the west wing of the house, as they were his most constant companions when he decided to involve himself in mortal warfare and conflicts.
"Is it nice out?"
He was always inclined to find her silence frustrating, but he knew it was part of her personality. "I could use some air. Aphrodite was just here."
Alala smirked. "Oh. I see."
He knew she didn't like Aphrodite, but he wasn't sure why. Being so quiet and so intelligent, she probably found Aphrodite silly and superficial, but it had to be more than that. "She told me something interesting."
She looked into his eyes and nonchalantly asked, "Finally admitted Eros is your son?"
Her statement shocked him. "So you've always thought I was the father?"
She shrugged. "It seemed obvious to me, but it wasn't my business."
"Well, maybe not." He rubbed his neck. "I'm going out for a while."
"You seem tense. Let me give you a massage."
That sounded amazing. It had been months since she'd done that for him. "Yeah, if you weren't going to bed."
She shook her head and started down the hall to one of the fitness rooms.
He usually liked the silence that accompanied her massages, but he found himself growing curious about why she didn't like Aphrodite. He also wanted to talk instead of brooding over his own thoughts. Alala was a very good listener and always gave remarkably insightful advice. She was so wise he'd often wondered if Athena or Artemis might be her mother, though the "virgin" goddesses both claimed they had never sullied themselves in that way.
He sometimes felt like Alala was a servant, not a friend. He didn't treat her that way, but she acted as though she was, as if serving him automatically made her a servant. She kept him at a distance, though he knew she cared about him. She had tended every wound he had ever received and never complained once. She'd spent hundreds of hours massaging his sore muscles and seeing to his needs.
He removed his shirt and stretched out on the table. Her touch immediately calmed him. After a few moments, he turned his head so he could see her.
"Can I ask you something?"
"I've never said this before, and now it feels ridiculous, but you and your father are not my servants. You're no different from me. You're a goddess, and your father is a powerful demon."
She looked at him, tilting her head a little. "I know that."
She didn't elaborate. Instead, she climbed on top of him and began kneading his shoulders.
He found he couldn't help becoming aroused as her hands worked his shoulders. She was very petite, so her thighs pressed tightly against his sides as she straddled him. He wanted to get her talking again.
"Why do you hate Aphrodite?"
She stopped and sat back. "I think she isn't good enough for you." She climbed off him and began rubbing down his legs.
It took him a moment to realize she'd used her powers to take his pants off.
"She's obviously good enough for you to fuck though."
Once again, he was shocked. Alala didn't normally express any opinions unless asked, and especially not such bold ones. "Well, I'm never going to do that again."
"You want to do it now."
He grimaced. She was referring to his erection. He didn't know if it was better to tell her that her skilled touch turned him on almost every time she massaged him, whether he got an erection or not, or to lie and say he still wanted Aphrodite.
"I've got a beautiful woman massaging me. I'm not thinking of anyone else." He'd never really considered fucking her, as he'd always felt very protective of her more than anything else, but the sensual power of her hands usually made him think of fucking someone.
She paused for a moment, but then went on with her massage.
He rolled over and took her by the shoulders. "Why react to other things I've said and not to that?"
She looked fairly calm. She brought her hands up and moved his off her shoulders. "I was still thinking about it."
He closed his eyes. He was frustrated about the things Aphrodite had said, and he was taking it out on an innocent who meant a great deal to him.
He looked at her imploringly. "I am very sorry. I'm not myself right now. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
She shook her head. "I'm fine."
He studied her face, pushing a strand of her red hair out of her blue eyes. "How did you grow up so calm and sweet living here?"
"I was born to calm and soothe you."
He could not keep his eyebrows from shooting up. "What?"
"I've been with Eris to see the Fates many times. She was born to be your companion and reflection. I came into your life to calm you."
"You think so?"
"Don't you feel better when you come home to me? I tend your wounds, get rid of your pain, and massage away any aches. I mix a fine drink too."
He'd always loved her low-key sense of humor, and he would never deny he was always very glad to come home to her.
"So now I'm an even bigger asshole for not noticing all you do."
"You always notice. You always thank me. It comes so naturally you simply don't think about it."
He didn't feel like he was getting much from her responses. "How come I can talk to any woman but feel awkward with you?"
"It's probably because my silence makes me seem so different from other women. You talk to me all the time. And you're never awkward."
That's because I'm usually not thinking of you as a woman. "But I just ramble about my problems."
"So I can make them not seem so bad."
He crossed his arms, struggling to find the right approach. "Are you really going to tell me you like taking care of me like I'm a big baby?"
She laughed. "I give you what you need. It's not hard."
"Sounds boring to me."
"It gives me great joy."
"Coming from anyone else, I wouldn't believe that in a million years."
"Perhaps this is a bad night to have this conversation."
She turned away and started folding his clothes. He watched her face. She didn't seem upset. He couldn't read any emotion from her at all.
"Aphrodite upset you. Your mind is racing. You've never questioned any of my actions before. You have never questioned my place in your life. You've accepted it because it was meant to be. It's natural. You're feeling off kilter right now and suddenly questioning things you never thought to question before."
"I'm far more upset about you than about Aphrodite."
She put his clothes down beside him. "Why are you upset about me?"
He ran his hands over his face. "I've taken you for granted for thousands of years when you're probably my best friend."
She shrugged. "I'm quiet. I blend into the background."
He turned his body to her and held her arm when she tried to move away. "You do not. You're very beautiful and very sweet. You do soothe and calm me."
"I know, and I'm glad."
"I talk to you all the time, but you've never talked to me this much, ever."
"Sometimes words aren't needed."
"I suppose not. You do always seem to know what I need. What would you do if I kissed you?"
She put her hand on his cheek, but he still felt nothing from her. "I would let you."
Something about her calm answer stung. "But you wouldn't kiss me back? You simply wouldn't object."
"I would do what you wanted and give you what you needed."
He felt an aching in his temples that reminded him of fights with Aphrodite. This was not a fight though. He touched the hand on his cheek. "So you'd let me use you? I don't like that, Alala. You are a goddess. I could never and would never command you. Or take advantage of you in that way."
"You wouldn't be using me. You'd be turning to me." She took her hand away. "I'm not insulted you don't want me."
He thought hard. What was she talking about? "I just asked you if you'd let me kiss you. How did you translate that into me not wanting you?"
"You were testing me."
He sighed. "I'm not testing you. I'm trying to figure you out. Five minutes ago you were my sweet, innocent girl, and now you're the most puzzling woman I've ever known. I said I wanted to kiss you, and you acted completely indifferent."
She blushed. "That's how you thought of me? Your sweet, innocent girl?"
She seemed to like that idea, and he had never seen her blush before over anything, so he decided to pursue the topic. "Yes. I never thought about it much before, but yes. Thinking of you always calms me. Like you said."
"I can be anything you need."
The candid surrender in her eyes aroused him in a way he'd never experienced before. He imagined taking her to his bed. He knew she'd be sweetly submissive. She would yield to his every whim. He could almost hear her quiet sighs and moans.
When he realized they were staring into each other's eyes, he suddenly felt like a dirty old man. He jumped off the table and darted from the room.
"I'm going to bed. I don't need anything else tonight."
Any other woman would have called after him, even if only to say one last thing. She let him run away from her without a word. And that's what he suddenly felt he was doing. Running away.
Alala smiled when she saw Eris in the garden. She hadn't expected to see her for a long time, as Eris had only recently moved in with Hermes. They weren't married, but they certainly acted like they were already on their honeymoon.
Eris smiled when Alala sat down. "You look like you have news."
"Perhaps I do. I'm not sure if it's good or bad though. Or even news at all."
Eris had guessed long ago how much Alala loved Ares, but she had always respected Alala's feelings and didn't push the subject. Alala liked having her to talk to because she felt like no one else would understand.
"I've heard Aphrodite finally told the big secret. We all knew it was probably Ares, but the confirmation was nice. How did he react?"
Alala sighed. "He was very frustrated. I gave him a massage, and he asked me why I didn't like Aphrodite. I think our conversation disconcerted him."
"What did you tell him?"
"Not what I planned to. I didn't tell him how I feel, not really, though I hinted at it."
"That's something you have to work on. I don't understand why you can't tell him you love him as candidly as you've told me."
Alala didn't say anything.
"Why are you so afraid of being hurt?"
"I don't know."
"Deep down, you do."
Alala hesitated. She'd always been honest with Eris, but she had kept one secret from her. She wasn't a virgin. She'd had an affair with another god, and as far as she could tell no one knew about it. Zeus and Hera might, but they had never done anything to indicate they did. She'd spent decades trying to love him and make him love her. Then she'd found him with Aphrodite in the arbor where they always met. The lust-filled scene had stayed with her. She could still see him fucking Aphrodite from behind, the love goddess moaning as she came. She could still hear him telling Aphrodite that her pussy was the sweetest he'd ever had.
"Alala? What are you thinking about?"
She took a deep breath. "You're right. I do know why."
"Do you want to tell me?"
"Apollo and I were lovers a very long time ago. The last time I saw him, the last time I had anything to do with him, was the night I found him with Aphrodite."
Eris actually looked shocked. "Did you love him?"
She shook her head. "It still hurt though. So, you can imagine how I felt when a mere two months later she began sharing Ares' bed. That hurt even more because I already knew I'd tried to love Apollo so desperately because Ares never looked at me."
Eris still looked stunned.
"I guess this is a lot to drop on you."
The other goddess shook her head. "How do you hold all of this in? You're a great mystery, my girl."
"That's what Ares said. He said I was puzzling."
"You are. I'd sure as hell have given Apollo a piece of my mind."
"I probably should have."
"What did you do?"
"He looked up and saw me as he came. I just looked at him and then walked away."
"He did nothing? Aphrodite did nothing?"
"Aphrodite tried to come after me. She said Apollo told her he had been sleeping with a nymph, someone of no significance or meaning to him. I told her the last part, at least, was true."
"Did you believe her?"
"Actually, I did. Apollo had fantasies about Aphrodite all the time. I knew he wanted her and would have said or done anything to have her."
Eris shook her head. "That little blonde sure knows how to cause some damage. At least she's kept your secret, which surprises me. It's probably best you didn't tell Ares."
Eris touched Alala's hand. "Think what you will, he has always cared for you. He would have challenged Apollo for his behavior."
"But why? Ares has been known to treat lovers the same way."
"But you are different. His anger would have echoed in the thunder over a thousand mountaintops."
She had to smile. "How poetic."
"Well, I am a poet, after all, but I'm being serious, no matter how silly you think that sounds. His true anger can be terrifying, as you know."
"I know he would have defended me, but as a matter of honor. Apollo had disrespected his household."
"I have always promised not to meddle, and I will keep that promise, but I wish you would believe me when I say Ares could love you. He's simply never considered you. I'm only his sister in a spiritual sense, created to be his companion and reflection, I believe one poet said. I am not the child of Zeus or Hera, but still, we would never have thought of each other that way. I think he's put you in that same category, though unconsciously."
"If it's possible, then he will love me. I can't make it happen."
"You will leave it up to the Fates?"
Eris studied Alala's face. "So why didn't you stay silent last night?"
"I was vague last night. He was confused, but he'll soon forget about it."
Eris shook her head. "You know him better than that. He'll be intrigued. Even if he isn't in love with you, you know as well as I do he loves you very much."
Alala didn't want to admit she did know that or that she had been purposely cryptic and submissive to spark his interest. It seemed too much like something Aphrodite would do. "We'll see."
Eros appeared before Eris could say anything else.
"I suppose you lovely ladies are talking about me."
Eris smiled. "We're discussing more important matters, actually."
He looked at the house. "Is Ares here?"
"Yes," Alala said. "He's been expecting you today." She expected Eros to flirt with her, or maybe make a joke about whether or not he was now entitled to her famous massages, but instead he just smiled at her.
"Good. I'm not sure what I'm going to say, but I might as well get on with it."
He walked off, leaving her alone with Eris again.
"He's certainly changed," Alala observed.
Eris nodded. "He has. Amazing what love can do to a man." She touched Alala's hand. "Just as Ares' lust for Aphrodite left him frustrated and unsatisfied, loving a woman who is worthy of him could finally make him happy."
"You think he's unhappy?"
"He's jovial. He's content at times. He's rarely happy." She searched Alala's face again. "His only peace comes from you. You know that."
"That's an exaggeration."
"Maybe so." Eris rose to leave. "Just think about it. Consider being as honest with him as you've been with me. He doesn't need another woman to play games with. He needs to find the love he craves."
Alala watched Eris walk away. She didn't have near as much confidence in her own ability to be all that Ares needed, but like Eris, she did trust the Fates. If what Lachesis had told her was true, she would always be the only woman who could soothe Ares. She only hoped Lachesis had meant that soothing to include all Alala wanted it to.
Ares looked up from his computer when Eros entered the room. He quickly closed the window on the screen, as he knew he'd be in for about a hundred years of teasing if anyone discovered he often played war games with mortals on the Internet.
Eros closed the door behind him and walked into Ares' office. "I don't know what to say, so I'm hoping maybe you do."
Ares got up and walked around to the front of his desk, then leaned against it. "Not really. I mean, what in the hell are we supposed to say?"
Eros shook his head. "I don't know. I spent so long telling myself it didn't matter, on some level it doesn't."
"Well, it's nice to know how I wound up being such a moody bastard."
Ares smirked. "But in the literal sense, you aren't a bastard anymore."
"Yeah, guess not. I suppose it also gives you a little justification for picking on me so much over the centuries."
"Not really. I'm just an asshole."
Eros looked down at the floor. "So are we done? I wanted to let you know she'd told me, and that I'm fine with it. I kind of always knew and feel better to not have to worry about it anymore."
"I think that's all you need to say. I always thought it was true, for the most part. Consistent with your mother's constant torture."
Eros snickered. "Yeah. I'm more than willing to bet she's only said about ten percent of what she wants to say."
Ares rolled her eyes. "But that's my problem. Don't worry about it."
"Well, Iris is worried about you."
"Tell her not to worry."
"Doesn't work with her. Not at all."
Ares wondered what he'd done to suddenly earn so much female attention. Iris, whom he'd only thought of as an unattainable hottie months earlier, was mothering him, and Alala, who before last night had never given him reason to question her place in his life, was talking in cryptic riddles and confusing the hell out of him in addition to arousing him in a very unique way.
"Actually, tell her she doesn't need to worry about Aphrodite because I have someone else on my mind."
"If Aphrodite wants to know, I'll tell her. For now though, I'm still trying to figure some things out about me and the lady in question."
Eros shrugged. "I'll relay the message. Be prepared for her curiosity."
"I will be." He met Eros' gaze. "Thanks for coming by. Sorry it wasn't a big, dramatic event."
Eros laughed. "Don't apologize. I get enough of that from my mother."
"Oh trust me, I know."
He shook his head, wondering if his straying thoughts were leading him to yet another entanglement. He wasn't really considering sleeping with Alala, but he found himself very intrigued. He still wasn't sure if he'd really been that confused last night or if she had actually been trying to tell him something.
But if she had been, why had she never said anything before?
Eris walked out onto the deck of Apollo's yacht. The tanned, blond god lifted his sunglasses and smiled at her.
"Hello, beautiful. Tired of your pasty, dark-haired boy already?"
Eris managed not to roll her eyes. Apollo had an amazing body, but she preferred her men dark-haired and pale like Hermes. Something about the orange tint of Apollo's skin and the bleached quality of his short blond hair seemed artificial. Drowning their looks in chemicals was fine for humans, but it struck her as out of character for a god. Zeus was tanned and blond as well, but his coloring was natural and very beautiful. Apollo always seemed very superficial and insincere for a god who supposedly could not lie. Eris was about to find out for certain if that myth was true or not.
"No. I'm quite taken with my man. It's called love, by the way."
"Love is overrated."
"If you say so. You've obviously never felt it. Or anything like it."
Apollo frowned. "I was teasing you, sweetheart, but I don't think you're teasing at all. What's going on?"
She sat down and looked over the water. "You know, I always thought you were a bit of a bastard, but now I'm certain you are."
"What? I've never done anything to you, Eris. I mean, okay, maybe the only times I've talked to you the last few centuries I was trying to get you into bed, but you can hardly blame me. You're a trophy, and Hermes won."
Eris narrowed her eyes, forgetting about her mission for a moment. "Excuse me?" She said it quietly, but her tone obviously got his attention. As powerful as he was, he knew better than to mess with her or Ares.
"Let me rephrase that."
"Yes, I think you should."
He leaned forward and smiled at her, then laughed nervously. "You're beautiful and sexy beyond words, and you have shunned every god who ever expressed interest in you. You slept with Zeus because he's Zeus."
"I slept with Zeus because I wanted to."
"Okay. Fine. But you see, I'm used to getting what I want, especially from women. You were a seducer, not one to be seduced. You were a challenge."
"So I was a way to prove how virile and manly you were?"
"Come on, I would have enjoyed it. You would have too. I'm a little shallow for you to love though, so it would have just been a nice fling."
She smiled. "At least you admit how shallow you are."
"Yeah, well, I like to fuck women. Not crazy about talking to them."
She searched his face, but his expression was blank. He wasn't hiding anything. His expression was genuinely blank. "And you certainly don't sugarcoat things."
"I can't. The only way I can hide anything is by staying silent."
"So I've heard."
"It's true. It's why women think I'm a jerk. I don't flatter them and lie to them."
"You wouldn't need to lie to someone if you really cared for them. An intelligent woman wouldn't want that anyway."
"I don't want an intelligent woman."
"Look, what's this actually about? You haven't just suddenly decided to teach me a lesson about women."
Eris wondered how Alala had managed to put up with him for even five minutes. She wondered how he could have seduced her. "I'm here because of Alala."
Apollo went a little pale, but then he smiled and sat back. He was obviously going for nonchalance, but it came off very awkward. "Yeah, she hates me in a major way."
"With good reason. I don't care how long it's been. If I tell Ares you deflowered her and then abandoned her for another, he'll have a blade at your throat, even if you are half-brothers."
"Whoa. Let's slow down for a minute here." He looked around as if he expected Ares to show up. "Let's talk about this."
"Tell me how you did it, and I'll listen to the rest."
Apollo ran his hands through his hair. "It's not going to help my cause to tell you how we hooked up."
Eris glared at him. His eyes widened. She knew he could see the flames behind her eyes. They appeared in Ares' eyes as well when he was at his angriest. "You tell me, or I'll throw you at Ares' feet after I'm done with you."
He cleared his throat. "I can't lie, but I can still deceive people."
He paused, looking like he was going to throw up.
"You better tell me."
"I appeared to her as Ares."
Eris balled her hands into fists and tried to keep her seat. She didn't manage to though. She stood up and pushed him out of his deck chair, but then she strode away from him. She had to keep her temper under control because Ares would feel it if she became too angry.
"And how did that work out?"
He got up off the deck of the yacht. "It worked, but then there was one little matter I hadn't known about."
Eris scowled at him. "Alala was a virgin. You took a virgin with trickery. Your twin sister would not have been pleased at all."
"Yes, Artemis would have reacted rather strongly."
"She'd probably have cut your cock off."
He nodded slowly. "That is entirely possible."
"So what did you do?"
"I told her the truth. I never have much choice. I told her I hadn't known she was a virgin."
"And she just forgave you?"
"Not really. She said she was tired of wanting someone who would never want her. She took it as a compliment that I'd gone to the trouble of seducing her that way."
Eris rolled her eyes. "That is macho bullshit."
"Okay. If you say so. I won't argue, but she liked being wanted. She actually said those words. For a virgin, she was amazing, and not just because she was, well, uh, you know..."
"Tight, yeah, whatever. Just keep it to yourself. Go on before I slug you."
"Well, she was so passionate. It was very good. Very satisfying. I wanted to be with her again. I told her that. I also told her I promised nothing. She said the same."
"It was so good because she thought she was making love to a man she loved, you ignorant ass. You have no idea what she really felt."
"She didn't say anything about not liking it. She didn't object about anything."
Eris really wanted to toss him overboard, but that would accomplish nothing. "You think you know anything about women with the way you think about them?"
"I'm also the god of pure reason, in case you've forgotten. If she had a problem, she should have said something. I don't have time for emotional bullshit."
"Which had to be why you wanted Aphrodite so much. She's as emotionally bankrupt as you are."
"She's a whore."
Before Eris could think, she had moved across the deck and slapped Apollo. He looked stunned.
"Since when do you like Aphrodite?"
"Never said I liked her or got along with her, but you're not going to call any woman a whore in my hearing. She enjoys the same sexual freedom you seem to cherish. She must have hurt you to make you say that."
"You just said she was emotionally bankrupt."
"Yes, I did. I said that because she is willing to hurt people to get her own way. I said it because of things I have seen her do in the past. It's my opinion of her, but I'd willingly change it if she gave me reason to. What's your excuse? You like a woman and want her to hop right into your bed, but the minute she's not yours anymore that very behavior makes her a whore?"
"Look, what do you want? If Alala wants satisfaction, she can go to Hera and Zeus."
"I'm here because of my own feelings. Alala doesn't care about you. But she still loves Ares, which is why she was so passionate in your arms."
He colored a bit, and she couldn't resist goading him a bit.
"Was she as good afterwards, when she knew it was you? When you were just someone to get under to get over her broken heart?"
"That's classy, sweetheart. But it won't work. You can't hurt me."
"Maybe most women can't. Maybe none of them matter enough. But Aphrodite did. I've seen you glare at her and Ares. I always thought it was just competitive, macho crap, but now I'm thinking she turned her eyes to him while she was still with you."
"You can't hurt me. Aphrodite hops from bed to bed and leaves a little piece of her heart there. She cares too deeply when she lets a man fuck her. I don't care. I can fuck anyone I want without worrying about missing them when they're gone. I didn't care when she started fucking him. I was done with her."
Eris felt puzzled. If that were true, and it had to be, then why had Aphrodite hurt him? And how? She knew he would be dismissive instead of defensive if he meant his words. "I don't understand then."
"So I can only think a woman is a whore if she hurt my feelings?"
"No, but that would make more sense."
"Once again, why are you here? Are you going to tell someone?"
"I don't know yet."
"What more do you want to know?"
Eris shook her head. "I'm not sure. I was angry to discover you'd treated Alala that way."
"She can't still be upset."
Eris thought quickly. "No, but it has affected her. How do you think she feels now, seeing the man she really loves with Aphrodite after what you did?"
"Perhaps her quarrel is with Aphrodite."
"But that doesn't leave you blameless."
"If she wants Ares, she needs to speak up or do something. He and Aphrodite are through now. She has her chance."
"It's not that easy."
Apollo laughed. "Yeah it is."
Eris groaned. He genuinely thought it was. He really believed people were free the moment they left their most recent lover's arms. He could think that all he wanted. She couldn't imagine living that way.
"Is it my fault other people have emotional baggage and I don't?"
"Then why are you mad at me?"
"Because of the way you treated her. Because of the blatant selfishness it shows."
"And what do you want me to do?"
"I wanted you to explain it all to me and prove you aren't as shallow as we all think you are. You are the god of light and truth, of prophecy and healing. How can you then be the man I see before me?"
His expression turned stony and cold.
"Say what you feel. I can handle the truth, Apollo."
"I have nothing to say."
Eris shook her head. "What did Aphrodite do?"
"Leave me alone."
"Tell me, Apollo. Trust me. Maybe we aren't friends, but that doesn't mean I won't care or understand. I came here to hear the truth, hoping to learn something good that would help me understand you and the situation."
"Leave me alone!"
Eris didn't know what else to do. He obviously wouldn't give her any answers now. "Okay." She started to go, but then she turned back. "I won't tell anyone. I didn't come here for revenge."
He turned to look out over the waves. "If you say so. Hope you got what you wanted."
Eris went home with a thought, appearing in her new study so Hermes wouldn't see her. She hadn't meant to get involved, and now she felt even more confused. She'd wanted to help Alala, but now she couldn't understand what she'd hoped to get from Apollo that would help her do that. Apollo was right about one thing. If Alala wanted Ares, she would have to pursue him, maybe even fight for him. Ares had grown tired of Aphrodite's manipulations and games. He needed a bold woman who would go after what she wanted, a woman who knew her own mind and possessed a heart worthy of him. Surely the goddess of the war cry could summon up enough will to end her silence and do just that.